Submitted by: Daniel R. Zajac, CFP ®, AIF®, CLU, Partner, SimoneZajac Wealth Management Group

As a financial advisor, I constantly hear the same two questions (if only I had a nickel…):

“What stock should I invest in?” and, “Can I tell you about the stock I just bought?”

I am not here to tell you whether your stock selection is a great idea or not; however, I will tell you that it is unlikely that a good pick or a bad pick will drastically change your financial future.

More importantly, if you are depending on “picking stocks” to meet your financial goals, then you may need to reconsider your “plan.”

Simple Math – Why Your Stock Doesn’t Matter

Success comes down to simple math as well as how much you are willing to invest. More often than not, when investors pick a stock and invest, the total investment is a small portion of their assets (to be fair, it makes sense to only invest a small portion of your money in a stock for which you have no vested or controlling interest.  But I digress…)

Let’s assume that you take a hypothetical $10,000 and invest it in XYZ stock.  Continue the assumption and imagine that the value of XYZ stock doubles in one year (which would be a remarkable and uncommon event).

Great.  Your $10,000 turned into $20,000.

However, let me ask you the following questions. Will this dollar amount materially change your lifestyle?  Are you suddenly independently wealthy?  Can you quit your job and buy that Ferrari you’ve been dreaming about?

Cue the “Debbie Downer” music – the answer is almost certainly “no.”

When Will You Sell?

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that you did pick a great investment, and it performed as well as the example above. Are you going to have the discipline to sell your beloved stock and make money? (You don’t make money until you sell…you know that, right?).

What if you don’t sell at the top of the market and XYZ stock starts to lose money? At what point will you cut bait? Worse, will you hang onto your baby in hopes that it will “bounce back.”

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you have the discipline to sell at the top of the market and cash in your stock. If so, congratulations!  You picked a great stock and made a great profit.

And for the record, three very unlikely things happened in this imaginary stock scenario.

  1. You picked a stock.
  2. Your stock doubled and doubled
  3. You sold your stock at the perfect time.